Maggie Gyllenhaal is one busy mom-to-be: Come this Friday, she’ll have two movies at the multiplexes – the Oliver Stone-directed World Trade Center and the romantic comedy Trust the Man. And she has several more films on the way, including a role already earning her Oscar buzz as a woman reconnecting with her daughter after a stint in prison in the drama Sherrybaby (in theaters Sept. 8). But her biggest project is still in production: her first child with fiancé Peter Sarsgaard. PEOPLE recently caught up with the the 27-year-old actress about why she’s keeping the baby talk to a minimum and her thoughts about motherhood.
You’ve got a slew of movies coming out. Are you going to take some time off when the baby arrives?
I know I’m going to have to take at least a few months off and then I’m really going to play it by ear. I have no way of knowing what it’s going to feel like to be a mother. I’m trying not to anticipate too much what I’m going to do. You know, I’m going to see.
Do you and Peter have any feeling that there’s a race to the altar before the baby is born?
No (laughs). We’ve got a lot to do before the baby.
You have wonderful role models in your parents (screenwriter mom Naomi Foner and director dad Stephen Gyllenhaal), who’ve managed to stay together in Hollywood. What have you learned from them?
I can see that it definitely takes work to make a relationship work and to make a relationship survive in a way that’s alive. There are a lot of people who are together who have also kind of died in some way, which is not, of course, something anybody wants. But I think in order to keep it alive, you have to keep reassessing and you have to keep looking at what’s working for you and what’s not working for you.
You grew up in L.A. but you live in New York City. Where do you plan to raise the baby?
I don’t think I would want to raise my child in L.A. Maybe it’s just wanting to do it differently than the way I was raised. It’s just so hard in L.A. to drive everywhere. It’s hard to have a lot of freedom as a kid ’cause you can’t just go run around outside as you would in the woods and you also can’t, when you’re 15, hop on a subway and get somewhere by yourself. It’s kind of a little bit constricting.
Have you asked your mom for any advice on having a baby?
The one thing that I’ve realized is that instinctively I know it’s my job not to talk too much about this baby. It’s such a funny world and the baby’s not even a grown human yet, so that’s my first job as a mother – to protect just the baby from that.